Photo | Spring Hill College

Spring Hill College junior midfielder Alex Lipinski collected a team-high of 18 goals this season along with five assists. He scored in 11 of 16 games played, including five multiple-goal games.

Spring Hill College has quickly made its presence felt by already claiming three conference titles in its first year of eligibility in the NCAA Division II ranks. However, you cannot have great teams without great players.

This is especially true for the SHC men’s soccer team. Three Badgers recently received honors for their achievements during the 2018 campaign.

Alex Lipinski, a junior from Krefeld, Germany, has been named one of four midfielders on the NCAA Division II Men’s All-American Team. He is the first Badger to achieve NCAA Division II postseason honors by the United Soccer Coaches group.

He was one of four Gulf South Conference players announced to the All-South Region Team on Nov. 27, but the only GSC player to be named an All-American. He was previously a first-team All-GSC selection.

“It’s a tremendous achievement for Alex to be recognized as an All-American for his performance this season,” said SHC Coach Steve Wieczorek. “He is a terrific, truly special young man. We could not be more proud of him and to have him represent our Badgers program on and off the field.”

As Spring Hill built a 17-2 record, Lipinski collected a team high of 18 goals along with five assists. He scored in 11 of 16 games played, including five multiple-goal games. His first goal of the year came in game three of the season, when he scored a season-high four goals in a 5-2 road win at Louisiana College.

Along the way, Lipinski netted three game-winners during the season. This included a penalty kick to lead SHC to a 3-2 win over the University of West Florida in the Gulf South Conference Championship. During the season, he scored 13 of his 28 shots on goal and averaged 73 minutes per game on the pitch, including a full 90 minutes in each of the last four games of the season.

In the classroom, Lipinski was just as impressive. He maintained a 3.37 GPA as a business administration major. This earned him a selection to the Google Cloud Academic All-District 5 team.

However, Lipinski was not the only Badger hitting the books. Senior Tilman Schober, a native of Schriesheimer, Germany, was named the Google Cloud Academic All-American of the Year for NCAA Division II men’s soccer. He leads a team of 34 individuals named to the 2018 Google Cloud Academic All-American Division II Men’s Soccer Team, as selected by members by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).

“Tilman is one of those rare individuals who excels in everything that he does,” Wieczorek said. “To perform equally as well in the classroom and on the soccer field, to achieve such a prestigious honor is a real testament to the type of person Tilman is.

“He is a genuine, kindhearted person who has balanced sport and school to the highest level. We as a program are so very proud and fortunate to have him within our team and in the Badger school community. He will be the example to current and future players of what our program and its members aspire to be.”

The award, which is the highest academic award given to a college student-athlete, recognizes the best combined athletic and academic performance by a student-athlete at each division in nearly every sport of college athletics. Schober earned a 3.99 GPA as a business administration major, focusing on finance. He said he chose the degree because he loves math, but wanted a degree that gave him more options.

On the field, Schober set the Badgers’ career record for assists (28) after collecting 16 assists in 2018, the third most in NCAA Division II. He helped transform the men’s soccer program, which went 3-12 his freshman season, into a national contender that included the undefeated run in conference play to win GSC regular season and tournament championships. He finished his career with 12 goals and 52 total points.

Schober and Lipinski were joined by teammate Jack LeForge on the 15-member Google Cloud Academic All-District Team for NCAA Division II District 5. LeForge, a senior defender from New Orleans, posted a 3.80 grade point average as a pre-med major while anchoring a Spring Hill defense that won 14-straight during the season.

“I cannot say enough positive things about Jack, Tilman and Alex. They have always committed themselves both to school and the soccer program in the right way and are truly deserving of this recognition for their efforts,” Wieczorek said.

Sports shorts

Five upperclassmen from the University of South Alabama football team received second-team all-Sun Belt Conference recognition when the league released its annual postseason honors. The group included seniors Bull Barge at linebacker, Nigel Lawrence at safety and Jamarius Way at wide receiver, as well as juniors Tra Minter at running back and Tyree Turner at defensive lineman.

A total of nine Jaguars earned notice as cornerback Darian Mills, offensive lineman Ryan Alexander, defensive lineman Jordon Beaton and wide receiver Kawaan Baker were named honorable mention all-conference. Way was a second-team all-league selection in 2017, while Barge and Lawrence garnered honorable mention accolades last fall.

USA offensive lineman Rowan Godwin earned second-team recognition on the Google Cloud Academic All-American Division I football teams released by CoSIDA. He is just the second Jaguar since the program’s inception in 2009 to be picked by the organization, as former center Trey Clark was a second-team honoree in 2012. A junior from Dothan, Godwin saw action in all 12 contests this fall. In the classroom, he is carrying a 4.0 cumulative GPA as a criminal justice major with a minor in business management.

Following a record-breaking performance in the final USA football game of the season, Minter was named the Sun Belt’s Offensive Player of the Week. In posting the first 100-yard effort of his career in the Jaguars’ 31-28 victory over Coastal Carolina, Minter set a new school mark with 203 yards on 24 carries while adding two receptions for another 49 yards. His career-high 252 all-purpose yards were the fourth-highest total in the program’s record books.